A fixture of Paramount Studios' wartime musicals, singer and actress Betty Jane Rhodes remains best known for her 1948 pop smash "Button and Bows." Born April 24, 1921, in Rockford, IL, Rhodes was just 16 when she co-starred in the Hollywood serial adventure Jungle Jim. Two years later, she was awarded her own short-lived radio showcase on the Mutual/Don Lee Network. After a stint with bandleader David Rose's radio series California Melodies, Rhodes co-starred in Meet Me at Parky's, a vehicle for comedian Harry Einstein's popular Parkyakarkus character. With a series of musical comedy bit parts under her belt, Rhodes earned feature billing in 1941's Along the Rio Grande, a Tim Holt-headlined Western that led to her co-starring turn in the comedy Mountain Moonlight. It's nevertheless her musical credits that remain her greatest legacy, among them Sweater Girl, Star Spangled Rhythm, and You Can't Ration Love. But with 1944's Halfway to Heaven, Rhodes' movie career ground to an abrupt halt, and that same year she signed to Decca Records to release her debut single, "I Don't Want to Walk Without You." The record fared poorly and the label quickly terminated her contract, but she resurfaced on RCA Victor soon after with "This Is Always." In 1946 Rhodes scored her first Top Five hit with the George Weiss/Benny Benjamin composition "Rumors Are Flying." Follow-ups "Bless You" and "Maybe You'll Be There" failed to generate the same interest, but in 1947 she notched a second smash, the Top 20 entry "Tonight Be Tender to Me." Rhodes again proved unable to capitalize on her momentum, however, issuing "Why Should I Cry Over You" and "Just Around the Corner" to minimal notice. In late 1948, with Dinah Shore's rendition of the Academy Award-winning "Button and Bows" ascending to the top of the Billboard pop charts, Rhodes recorded her own rival version with the Harry Zimmerman Orchestra, peaking at the number 15 slot.
Share this page